Women in SAFE Coffee.
From planting to harvesting and beyond, women play a crucial role in coffee production. Nonetheless, coffee is commonly considered a man’s crop. Women earn less income, own less land, and have fewer training and leadership opportunities, according to the Coffee Barometer 2018. Situations must change to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers, families, and communities. On this International Coffee Day, we would like to celebrate all the women and initiatives that are working to make coffee more equitable.
One such story is that of doña Ángela, a leader in her community that champions clean water in Seares, Nicaragua. Although she is in her 70s, her spirit is of a 30-year-old. Life has taught this single mother of five that with willpower and hard work, anything can be achieved. You can read more about her experience, here.
Our desire is for more women to feel empowered like doña Ángela. For this, it is necessary to mainstream gender-focused projects within the sector. Trias and CLAC have taken the lead in understanding which approaches other organizations have taken in the subject, what has worked, and what can be improved. The process of this project has been explained in this video and podcast. A great tool that organizations can use is the Project Methodology developed by the Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE), which provides industry actors with a roadmap for managing a gender-related project in their own supply chain.
Communities must also be engaged in change-making processes. Our Famer Link and Accelerating Gender Equity projects have included workshops with coffee producers in Colombia and Nicaragua, respectively. The first case, led by Cooperativa de los Andes, and backed by Starbucks, has empowered local female youth to become leaders in connecting the Coop to the producers and in following-up on individual farm plans.
PGE, who spearheads the Acceralting Gender Equity project has also asked: how are the issues of gender related to youth and an aging farming population? They have started researching the matter, and are also providing workshops to engage the next coffee generation. More information, here.
Change is gradual, but we’re proud to see it occur. Experiences like the ones mentioned above, and examples of strong women in power-holding positions (such as the composition of the board of the Coalition for Coffee Communities, composed of 6 women from 6 leading actors in the coffee sector) motivate us to keep pushing forward.
The theme of this year’s International Coffee Day is “Women in Coffee”. To understand more about the role women play, you can watch the Gender in Coffee Documentary by Xavier Hamon and Hannah Stapleton, which includes the following quote by Kimberly Easson of the PGE:
"The issue of gender equity involves all of us. It isn't just about coffee farming communities. [...] The global coffee sector is comprised of a beautiful diversity of people from all origins, dozens and dozens of languages, and different expressions of gender. The coffee sector needs to be welcoming and inclusive to everyone."
A great way to support women in coffee producing communities is to consume coffee that helps empower and support women.